Even though Texas is an at-will employment state, there are several laws that protect employees in Texas. Below are broad overviews of some common employment laws. You should speak with an employment attorney about your situation in order to determine if you have a case worth pursuing. Nothing on this website should be construed as legal advice.
Race, Color, Sex, National Origin, Religion
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 make sit unlawful for certain employers to discriminate against an individual on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, or religion with respect to hiring, discharge (terminating), compensation, promotion, classification, training, apprenticeship, referral for employment, or other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. The law applies to employers with 15 or more employees. The Texas Labor Code has provides similar protections, including prohibitions against age and disability discrimination.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits discrimination on the basis of age against individuals age 40 or older with respect to hiring, discharge, compensation, or other terms of employment. This federal law applies to employers with 20 or more employees; however, the Texas Labor Code only requires 15 employees for age discrimination claims.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals with physical or mental disabilities. The ADA also requires employers to provide engage in an interactive process with employees and make reasonable accommodations for disabled employees and applicants, as long as the accommodation does not result in undue hardship to the employer’s operations. Even individual without disabilities are protected if the employer wrongly believes the employee has a disability and discriminates against him or her based on that perceived disability. The law applies to employers with 15 or more employees. The Texas Labor Code is nearly identical to the ADA.
Family Medical Leave Act
The FMLA allows certain employees to take unpaid leave for specific family or medical reasons under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave. Generally, covered employees may be entitled to twelve weeks of leave in a one-year period for the following situations, among others: the birth or adoption of a child; to care for a spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition; or because of the employee’s own serious health condition. The FMLA applies to employers with at least 50 employees that work within 75 miles of the employee’s work location. Furthermore, an employee is only covered if he has worked for the employer for at least 12 months and worked at least 1,250 during the last 12 months.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act is an amendment to Title VII that prohibits sex discrimination because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth.
Equal Pay Act
The Equal Pay Act (EPA) requires equal pay for equal work performed by employees of either sex working in the same establishment. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex with respect to wages paid for equal work on jobs that require the same skill, effort, responsibility, and working conditions.
Title VII, the ADEA, and ADA, and the Texas Labor Code prohibit employers from retaliating against employees for making employment discrimination claims, assisting others in filing such claims, and for otherwise opposing illegal employment practices. Similarly, employees cannot be retaliated against for seeking or taking leave under the FMLA. Retaliation does not require the employee prevail on the underlying discrimination claim, only that the claim was made in good faith.
Texas Wrongful Termination
Although Texas is an at-will employment state, there is one common law exception to this rule. An employer cannot fire an employee for refusing to perform an illegal act.